Acupuncture for Motion SicknessRoller coaster

Timothy C. Hain, MD. • Page last modified: March 5, 2021

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As is the case for acupuncture in most other contexts, the scientific literature suggests a modest effect, close to placebo. Acupressure, in particular, such as the "Sea Band", or "Relief Band", seems to be identical to placebo. More vigorous procedures, such as electroacupuncture have more reports of good response.

It seems possible (though unestablished), that an electrical stimulator such as a TENS unit might be helpful in preventing motion sickness.

Overall, we think that acupuncture has a small role in prevention of motion sickness. Other treatment methods are far more effective.

What is acupressure ?

Acupressure is simply use of pressure rather than a needle or a shock applied at an acupuncture point. Most papers studying these devices say that they are placebos.

Dry needling ?

Similar to acupuncture, but done by physical therapists rather others.


Those suggesting no effect: These paper are all from reputable journals.

Some effect:

Good effect (We find these reports very dubious.)


Alkaissi, A., T. Ledin, et al. (2005). "P6 acupressure increases tolerance to nauseogenic motion stimulation in women at high risk for PONV." Can J Anaesth 52(7): 703-709.
Bertolucci, L. E. and B. DiDario (1995). "Efficacy of a portable acustimulation device in controlling seasickness." Aviat Space Environ Med 66(12): 1155-1158.
Bruce, D. G., J. F. Golding, et al. (1990). "Acupressure and motion sickness." Aviat Space Environ Med 61(4): 361-365.
Ding, M., Y. P. Zhao, et al. (2006). "[Orientation taping magnetic granules at auricular points and Neiguan (PC 6) for prevention and treatment of 102 cases of motion sickness]." Zhongguo Zhen Jiu 26(5): 325-327.
Frey, U. H., M. Funk, et al. (2009). "Effect of P6 acustimulation on post-operative nausea and vomiting in patients undergoing a laparoscopic cholecystectomy." Acta Anaesthesiol Scand 53(10): 1341-1347.
Frey, U. H., P. Scharmann, et al. (2009). "P6 acustimulation effectively decreases postoperative nausea and vomiting in high-risk patients." Br J Anaesth 102(5): 620-625.
Hu, S., R. M. Stern, et al. (1992). "Electrical acustimulation relieves vection-induced motion sickness." Gastroenterology 102(6): 1854-1858.
Hu, S., R. Stritzel, et al. (1995). "P6 acupressure reduces symptoms of vection-induced motion sickness." Aviat Space Environ Med 66(7): 631-634.
Imai, K., H. Kitakoji, et al. (2006). "Gastric arrhythmia and nausea of motion sickness induced in healthy Japanese subjects viewing an optokinetic rotating drum." J Physiol Sci 56(5): 341-345.
Ivanov, A. L. and V. M. Snitko (1985). "[Use of reflexotherapy in the prevention and treatment of motion sickness]." Voen Med Zh(8): 56-57.
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Kramer, B. A., A. G. Kadar, et al. (2003). "Transcutaneous acupoint electrical stimulation in preventing and treating nausea and vomiting in patients receiving electroconvulsive therapy." J ECT 19(4): 194-196.
Lin, X., J. Liang, et al. (1997). "Electrical stimulation of acupuncture points enhances gastric myoelectrical activity in humans." Am J Gastroenterol 92(9): 1527-1530.
Miller, K. E. and E. R. Muth (2004). "Efficacy of acupressure and acustimulation bands for the prevention of motion sickness." Aviat Space Environ Med 75(3): 227-234.
Pei, J., T. Yang, et al. (1998). "[Study on effect of acupoint sticker of TTS-ST93-1 in treating motion sickness]." Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi 18(8): 464-467.
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Stern, R. M., M. D. Jokerst, et al. (2001). "Acupressure relieves the symptoms of motion sickness and reduces abnormal gastric activity." Altern Ther Health Med 7(4): 91-94.
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Warwick-Evans, L. A., I. J. Masters, et al. (1991). "A double-blind placebo controlled evaluation of acupressure in the treatment of motion sickness." Aviat Space Environ Med 62(8): 776-778.
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